Great Ways to Enjoy Quito's Magical La Ronda

Theres no question that old-world La Ronda is the most magical and romantic neighborhood in all of Quito
There's no question that old-world La Ronda is the most magical and romantic neighborhood in all of Quito | © Luis Leamus / Alamy
Rick Segreda

Cultural Activist

La Ronda is a captivating addition to Quito‘s Unesco-listed historical district, and the long, curving street has become one of the Ecuadorian capital’s most treasured attractions over the years. Here, we delve into the history of La Ronda and pick out the best things to do there.

Located just south of Quito’s main historical district, La Ronda is found between Calle Venezuela and Pedro Vincente Maldonado. Its origins date back to the time of the Incas, but it underwent a major transformation after the Spanish conquest in the 16th century as residential and commercial construction began, largely in the Andalusian style common in Spain.

Calle de la Ronda, Quito, Ecuador

In the late 19th century, La Ronda began to develop a reputation as a bohemian barrio. Over the following few decades, it became home to painters, poets, political activists and even priests (most notably, Federico González Suárez, who served as the Archbishop of Quito for 12 years).

As Quito grew and La Ronda gradually depopulated, it became increasingly associated with criminals. Yet, ironically, it benefited from neglect; its historical buildings were never razed to make way for modern shopping malls, condos, and fast-food franchises. In the late 20th century, a movement began to restore La Ronda.

Today, from the outside, the lantern-lit streets and floral balconies enhance the romantic ambiance, making La Ronda one of the crown jewels of Quiteño culture. A series of doorways open up to a courtyard and multiple art galleries, museums, craft shops, and elegant restaurants. Here’s a flavor of what you can expect to see and do in La Ronda today.

Visit the Casa de las Artes

Casa de Arte

Casa de las Artes is a museum and gallery split across nine rooms featuring exhibits of new Quiteño art, as well as a nostalgic recreation of domestic life in the city from decades past. Admission is free.

Sample Canelazo

Canelazo

Canelazo is a local alcoholic drink made from a combination of naranjilla (a type of citrus fruit grown in the Andes), cinnamon, and the strong cane liquor, aguardiente. It’s served hot, and you can buy a cup for the equivalent of less than $1.

Try the local food

Street food on La Ronda

Whether you’re after a quick bite or a sit down meal, you won’t be short of dining options on La Ronda. For authentic Ecuadorian cuisine, head to any one of La Negra Mala, Casa los Geranios, Can Ferran or La Primera Casa Restaurante & Arte. Panaderia Reina de la Paz is a good spot for pizza and craft beer, while Dulce Placer Heladeria is the place to go for delicious ice cream.

Enjoy live music

Many of La Ronda’s eateries and taverns feature live music from Ecuadorian folk artists ready to serenade their audiences with traditional ballads about broken hearts and lost loves, adding to the convivial ambience for which La Ronda is famed.

Dance to salsa

Many of La Ronda’s bars and clubs also feature live Latin American music, creating a carnival vibe for locals and visitors alike to jam to salsa, cumbia, and merengue. Don’t feel shy about taking part – just embrace the music and dance like nobody’s watching. It’s one of the most authentic and immersive ways to soak up the unique atmosphere of La Ronda, and feel like you’re an active part of it.

Watch street performers

Street performers like dance troupes, magicians, jugglers, and fire-eaters have a long history in Quito, and they are especially popular with crowds on La Ronda. You never know what kind of weird and wonderful acts you might come across on any given day – but they’re usually worth stopping by for the free entertainment.

Shop

Guayasamin Pillows

The galleries and shops on La Ronda specialize in arts, crafts and clothing not found anywhere else in the city. Even if you have no intention of buying anything, you can easily pass an hour or so mooching around and discovering what’s on offer.

Learn

La Ronda History

The city of Quito provides interpretive boards in both Spanish and English that educate locals and foreigners about La Ronda’s complex history. Keep an eye out for them as you go – it’s well worth stopping to have a read and get a sense of how the area has transformed over time.

Interested in visiting La Ronda? You can do so as part of a guided walking tour of Quito on Culture Trip’s exclusive eight-day Ecuador adventure, led by our Local Insider.

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